D: EA Redwood Shores
P: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Playstation 3
Date added: January 27, 2009
Dead Space Review
2008 was undeniably the year in which EA excelled in the gaming industry yelling out to the world, “We know how to do it best!” Electronic Arts has pumped out title after title this year, with new and original IPs, along with solid returners such as the FIFA series. However, other titles such as Army of Two and Facebreaker failed to make the desired impact, something that would inevitably set back the huge publisher. The most accaimed segment of their 2008 roster was undoubtedly their Fall lineup, and one that was sure to deliver was EA's unique horror shooter; Dead Space.
Dead Space is a new IP from EA, developed in their Redwood Studio. It combines the survival horror genre and thrusts it into a sci-fi setting to create an unforgettable experience. Before the game was released back in October, EA had launched a series of digital comics which gave a taste of the plot that was to unfold. The game is set on a huge spacecraft, the USG Ishimura, a “Planet Cracker” owned by a huge mining company, looking to destroy a vacant planet and extract its resources. However, all hell breaks loose when a religious artefact is found on the surface of the planet, corrupting the weak minds of Unitologists, a religious group in awe over the presence of “The Marker.” Suddenly the ship starts to go crazy; people start to kill themselves and others around them, crazed by an unexplainable effect on their minds. All power goes down, and the ship drifts silently into Dead Space...
You assume the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is naively sent to board the Ishimura and boot up the power. However, when he arrives with a few accomplices, the crew is nowhere to be seen, but as his team starts getting picked off one by one, he begins to realize what happened.
The gameplay is very beefy and clever at the same time. There are two main modes of play, running, and shooting. You will only be allowed to shoot with a weapon poised, halting all fast movements like traditional survival horror games. An array of weapons will be available to you in Dead Space from the simple and convenient Plasma Cutter to gruesome weapons such as the Contact Beam and Ripper, each offering a different style of gameplay, and all of the available weapons are upgradable as the game progresses at in-game armouries. The main focus of gameplay, as EA clearly tipped to reviewers, was the field of dismemberment. Every enemy in Dead Space can have any of their limbs severed either through a timed shot or by running around stamping on downed foes like a madman. But unfortunately, however experimental it all sounds, it’s very limited. When I heard the phrase “total dismemberment” I initially thought that every square inch of the body could be hewn into chunks, but no, only arms, legs, and heads can be lopped off. That being said, there is still much satisfaction to be had in walloping a Necromorph’s head off with your Plasma Cutter, and depending on which part of the body you decide to remove could effectively weaken your enemy, multiply them, or even frenzy them. However, just like many survival horror titles, Dead Space will not offer a lot of replay value apart from the small mini-games and incentive for to unlocking trophies.
The guys at the Redwood Studio made sure that Dead Space would be one of the scariest games you have ever experienced. The setting is portrayed beautifully, with blood stained metal walls tunnelling you, and the Necromorphs are crowned for the most scary looking enemies, Isaac also getting his own iconic “silent protagonist” profile. Every enemy is placed in a perfect spot to terrify the players, and the sound effects and eerie music just add to the spine tingling atmosphere. Every corner you turn will have you on the edge, and the sense of despair will kick in when faced by hordes of Necromorphs too. Along with Mirror’s Edge, EA have established Dead Space perfectly, hinting at a most probable sequel, which I am sure will go down well.